What should i know before going to Uganda?
What should i know before going to Uganda?, Preparing for your Ugandan safari can be quite exciting due to your different expectations for your action packed adventure in the Pearl of Africa. Whether you are intending to embark on gorilla trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable National park – one of the most fascinating activities ever or to visit one of the other 9 endowed national parks or even visiting Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja cities, it is all worth the excitement. No country is perfect and each one has its own rules and regulations and a varying system of handling day to day life.What should i know before going to Uganda?, It is for that reason, therefore, that we present to you some essential points to note before travelling to this beautiful country.
Requirements for travel
- As you prepare to travel to Uganda, it is important that you go for yellow fever vaccination because a valid yellow vaccine certificate must be presented at the airport as you enter the country. This certificate is also necessary during the visa application process. Besides yellow fever, there are other diseases that you may be advised to get a vaccine for. Some of them include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera and rabies.
- When you arrive at Entebbe International Airport, you may be subject to screening for infectious diseases such as Ebola and COVID 19 and temperature checks by the Airport Health authorities. This is meant to keep you and every other traveller safe from infections or their consequences.
- You must carry a valid visa as you travel to Uganda. E-visas can be purchased online through the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration, which is the only authentic visa application portal for Uganda. There is no other portal that provides this service, therefore avoid falling for any fraudulent means, portals or personnel who claim to provide it. Also, getting an E-visa will cost you 50 US dollars, exclusive of the service fee.
- If you are intending on travelling to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda within 90 days of your safari, it is advisable for you to apply for the East African Community’s EAC Tourist Visa which offers multiple entry to those countries. The visa costs 100 US dollars and is valid for only 90 days. As soon as you leave the above mentioned countries, it loses validity automatically. Also, you can only apply for this visa from the Government of Uganda and the entry/exit conditions can change at short notice.
- When you are entering or exiting Uganda, you must present a negative COVID 19 (PCR) test taken within 72 hours of travel.
- Due to the fact that travellers’ cheques, credit cards and debit cards are not applicable/accepted in some parts of the country, it is recommended for travellers to carry some cash on them to use just in case they can’t access money from the banking system. Also, the currency for Uganda is called the Uganda shilling. You may convert your money to the Ugandan currency but bigger hotels/lodges and national parks also accept US dollars and Euros.
- HIV/AIDS is a disease that is still prevalent in Uganda. With that said, it is important that you take all the necessary precautions to prevent contracting this deadly disease. Some of the precautions that you may take include; avoiding sharing sharp instruments, abstaining or using protection during sexual relations with your sexual partner, being cautious about medical procedures such as blood transfusions and several others.
- Yellow fever and malaria are common in Uganda as well as other insect borne diseases. Ensure to sleep under a treated mosquito net at your accommodation to avoid getting infected with any of these diseases. Then, while doing outdoor activities, apply insect repellent to your body and put on long sleeved shirts and pants to prevent insect bites.
- If you have any underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart complications or any other disease, allergy, complication, injury etc, it is important that you carry your prescribed medication with you. There are parts of the country (especially outside Kampala – the capital city) where health centres are few or non-existent or under equipped with medicine and medical equipment. Therefore, carrying your own medication will help to avoid any inconveniences. However, if you need medical help (from trained health workers), there are government and private hospitals where you can get proper health care from. Some of them include St. Francis Hospital Nsambya, Nakasero Hospital, International Hospital Kampala (IHK), Mulago Hospital and others.
- At the beginning of 2023, on 11th January, the Government of Uganda and the World Health Organisation declared the end of the Ebola outbreak which had been announced in the country on 20th September, 2022. However, it is still advisable to monitor any information/guidance that is issued by the Government and the media in order to remain updated.
- It is not safe to drink tap water in Uganda, you will be putting your health at risk. The tap water in this wonderful country has to be boiled first in order to make it safe for drinking. However, it is safe for washing your hands and face, for brushing your teeth and for washing clothes. If you do not have access to boiled drinking water, it is advisable to make use of bottled mineral drinking water (which is always available in our safari vehicles when you travel with us). This water can also be bought from supermarkets and shops throughout the country.
When is the best time to travel to Uganda?
Actually, you can travel to Uganda at any time of the year, although it is much better during the dry season from June to August and from December to February. This is because the weather is easier to deal with, roads are easier to use (especially places with murram roads) and wildlife is easier to spot during game drives. What should i know before going to Uganda?, Due to all these positive factors, the dry season is usually the peak season which means that tourist attractions are more crowded and busy. The down side to this, though, is that accommodation prices tend to increase.
On the hand, the wet season which runs from March to May tends to be less comfortable due to the coldness and the slippery roads and trails in some areas. However, this season is usually less busy, the tourist attractions are not so crowded and accommodation prices are more friendly.
Safety guidelines in Uganda
- Due to past terrorist attacks in Uganda, expect to find increased security arrangements in several public places. Some of these include body, car and luggage checks at the entrances of these places.
- In Uganda, petty or violent crimes can happen. Ensure that you avoid moving alone in isolated areas especially at night, always look out for any suspicious persons/ behaviour, call the Uganda Police (999 or 112) for any distressing situations and just be careful with your property. What should i know before going to Uganda?, However, generally speaking, Uganda is a safe country and is a comfortable place to travel to.
- If you are travelling near the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it is important that you seek professional security advice. This is because DRC is very unstable and volatile – you may easily get involved in violence or even get kidnapped.
- Despite the generally peaceful nature of Uganda, there remains a potential for tension or politically driven incidents such as strikes/demonstrations or any other form of violence. It is therefore advisable to keep alert, follow all guidelines put in place by the security forces, keep updated (by following day to day news) and others.
Local laws that you must abide by
- If you commit a serious crime in Uganda, you may earn yourself a life sentence or corporal punishment.
- In Uganda, it is against the law to perform same sex sexual acts, to take photos of certain areas and buildings and to wear camouflage clothings or military style.
- If you are caught, possessing, using or trafficking illegal drugs you will get a severe penalty and if you are convicted, you will face a long jail sentence and heavy fines.
How to prepare for your stay in Uganda
- Since it is necessary to carry some cash with you during your trip, it is advisable to exchange your money for example US dollars into Ugandan shillings at a forex bureau in any of the bigger towns but preferably in Kampala city so that you can get the best value for your money.
- Carry your bank cards/visa cards with you and withdraw money from ATM machines for any of your trusted bank operators such as Stanbic, Equity, Standard Chartered and others. Ensure that you find out about the bank charges that come with withdrawals to avoid any disturbances during your transactions.
- When you arrive in Uganda, it is important that you purchase a local sim card for say MTN or Airtel mobile networks in order to stay connected. What should i know before going to Uganda?, Prepaid Ugandan sim cards are cheap and also have a provision of purchasing affordable mobile data or credit for making phone calls.
- In Uganda, all the major social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram are accessible. However if you are interested in using Facebook, ensure that you have an efficient VPN in order to access it. This application was blocked in 2021 due to some disputes between the Government and Facebook but it can somehow be accessed by using VPN.
- With regards to Wi-Fi, the internet connectivity/access in Uganda is sometimes unstable especially in remote areas (where we find many of the national parks). To avoid frustrations, you should purchase a Ugandan prepaid sim card and load mobile data which you can use at your convenience. During your transfers, our tour guide can provide a mobile hot spot for you to access the internet as you travel. We understand how important it is to stay connected to your loved ones as you experience the beauty of the Pearl of Africa. The internet is essential for communication and sharing videos/photographs of your incredible experiences.
- One of the most sensitive parts of a trip is the food issue. It is difficult to enjoy your adventure with an empty stomach. What should i know before going to Uganda?, However, as you prepare to travel to Uganda, food should be the least of your worries. You will find both local and international cuisines in different hotels/lodges and restaurants around the country. There are several local dishes such as matooke, cassava, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, beans etc at a really affordable price. You will also find fresh fruits such as oranges, mangoes, watermelons and others, served with meals or sold along the roads and in the markets. Don’t miss out on the delicious street foods such as Rolex, barbecue chicken, roasted meat and so on. Besides local food, you can choose from a wide range of international dishes from India, Asia or Europe.
- As you explore the country, it would be nice to tip your guides or porters or any person that assists you during the safari. This would make them feel happy and appreciated.
- If you need a delivery of your food or grocery shopping to your location, you can use online shopping applications such as Glovo and Jumia. These applications can surely make your life easier and more comfortable.
- If you intending on going for gorilla trekking in Uganda, it is important that you make a booking for your gorilla trekking permit about 6 months prior to your arrival in order to avoid any disappointment. The trekking permits cost 700 US dollars for foreign non-residents and are issued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. We can, however, handle the entire booking process for you, as your trusted tour operator.
- In Uganda, there are areas that have a problem with availability of electricity. It is therefore advisable to carry chargers and power banks for your devices so as to avoid getting stuck when you need them. You should also ensure to carry a travel adapter with you (preferably the UK type).
- During your tour, it is advisable to travel in a 4×4 safari vehicle because it provides all the necessary comfort and can easily pass through any kind of road, even those that get slippery during the wet season. We can offer that in your safari package as well as a professional English speaking (the language can vary) tour guide to ensure your safety and comfort.
- Having a total of 56 tribes, Uganda has a wide range of local languages although the official one is English. This means that you will not have so much trouble in terms of communication with the local people, even those that you may find in the remote areas. What should i know before going to Uganda?, Ugandans are very friendly and will surely make you feel at home.
- Uganda is richly endowed with various tourist attractions which you can choose from for your safari. Some of them include Queen Elizabeth National Park (for tree climbing lions), Murchison Falls National Park (for the world’s strongest waterfalls), the Source of the Nile – Jinja, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee sanctuary, Kampala city, the King’s Palace in Fort Portal and so on. Feel free to explore this beautiful country according to how far your means can take you!
- As you pack your bags for a Ugandan safari, ensure that you consider the acceptable dress code among the Ugandan people. Avoid short skirts or shorts or any kind of indecent or revealing clothes. It is okay, however, you carry a pair of shorts (of an appropriate height) for outdoor activities such as white water rafting. For women, it is better to carry over the knee skirts and to avoid wearing trousers/shorts in the local communities. On the other hand, it is essential to carry long sleeved shirts and trousers to protect you from insect bites, bruises/scratches and coldness.
- Besides the clothes, some of the other items to consider while packing for your trip include; rain jacket, flashlight, insect repellent, gloves, day pack, malaria medication, camera gear, binoculars, extra batteries and several others.
COVID 19 and Ebola travel Guidelines
Ensure to follow all the necessary COVID 19 and Ebola travel guidelines to ensure that you are in a safe and healthy condition during your safari with us. What should i know before going to Uganda?, One of our major priority is to provide the best possible safety and comfort during your tour, so please rest assured that you will be in safe hands.
Some of the travel guidelines include wearing and carrying a sufficient number of surgical masks, moving with an alcohol based hand sanitizer, vaccination against COVID 19 or taking a PCR test and several others.
Generally, Uganda is a safe country to travel to, the people are very friendly and can help you to find your way around things/places in the country. What should i know before going to Uganda?, Also, our professional tour guide will always be on standby during your trip to give you all the necessary information or assistance that you may need.
Kindly make your safari booking with us today and get a wonderful Ugandan adventure!